Paladin Grovesnor walks surrounded by the holy flame of her god. Her enemies cower at the magnificent approach of her white painted armor. Even the grass wilts under the intense light that follows her footsteps through shadowy forests and desolate plains.
Attacked by goblins, the paladin has nothing to fear. She wields her finely crafted mace with ease. Its silver, rune covered head sings through the air as she brings it down on her foes. She dispatches the goblins like so many rats. Her blood covered mace provides the only hint of this encounter as she travels confidently on.
In a dank cave Paladin Grovesnor's holy flame is somewhat diminished. She is further from her god in these depths. She runs her fingers over the runes on her mace and steels herself for battle at the approach of a cave dwelling ogre.
The great brute grabs the paladin with its craggy fist dragging the holy warrior through the rocky darkness.
Paladin Grosvenor strikes back. A quick blow to the beast's elbow looses its grip. She rolls free and dodges the ogre's next strike. With a leaping strike she knocks the ogre off balance. Her mace rains down knocking the monster unconscious.
The paladin checks her contusions and scrapes the shredded paint and debris from her dented helmet. She is no worse for the wear and journeys on.
The darkness underground gives way to the darkness of night as Paladin Grovesnor emerges from the cave to find the sun already set. In a moonlit meadow the paladin lets out a sigh, having survived another perilous day. Looking for a spot to make camp, she doesn’t hear the hastily assembled ambush until it's too late.
The air is pierced with the sounds of flying arrows, the paladin raises her shield in defense but in the chaos and darkness she finds herself facing the wrong way. She feels the bite of an arrowhead as it burrows into the back of her shoulder perfectly between two armored plates.
In the distance she can hear the hyena-like cackling of gnolls. Their carrion stench proceeds them as they close in on the injured paladin.
Though wounded, the paladin is guided by her faith. She focuses on her god and prays. She is once again surrounded by the holy flame. The meadow is illuminated and she can see the gnashing teeth and hungry eyes of her approaching attackers.
The paladin can hardly lift her shield to defend herself as first gnoll strikes. She sidesteps a blow and delivers one of her own, slamming her mace into the creature's shoulder. A burst of singed hair and smoke follows the injured beast as it flees.
The next two gnolls attack in tandem, flanking Paladin Grovesnor like wolves going for the kill. The Paladin drops to one knee and begins a prayer. The gnolls exchange nervous looks but grip their weapons and move in on the paladin. The flaming aura around her grows with each word of prayer and the gnolls’ attacks fail to find their mark within the golden pool of light.
When Paladin Grovesnor opens her eyes the meadow is empty. The gnolls have fled and morning light is illuminating a distant ridge.
The artifact of Paladin Grovesnor’s quest is at the summit of Mount Brimestone. She stands at the precipice looking at the sheer cliff towering above her. It is the final obstacle between her and the summit.
Climbing in armor isn’t an option. The paladin strips off the damaged plates and carefully packs them into a bag for hoisting after her own ascent. She shivers in the cold mountain air which now moves easily through her layers of simple brown clothing.
After a few failed attempts, Paladin Grovesnor secures her grappling hook with an underhand toss. She ties the bag of armor to the line so she can raise it up the cliff and begins to climb. The arrow wound on her shoulder from the previous night is mostly mended. A boon from her god, no doubt.
The Paladin’s boots scrape along the cliff’s rocky face as she makes her laborious way up. Rocks rain down, dislodged by her passing. She tries not to look at the ever growing drop below her. Hand over hand, she works her way up the coarse rope. It gnaws at her skin until she reaches the top. Wedging her boot into a crack, the paladin pushes her way up the final few feet and finally over the top of the cliff. Laying on her back, her sweat soaked clothes cling to her in the discomforting cold of the thin air.
She reaches back to the rope to begin the brutal event of dragging her armor and equipment up the cliff. It only takes two tugs before the line suspiciously lightens. The paladin looks over the cliff to examine her load. The bag of gear rests resolutely at the bottom of the cliff. The line has come untied.
Paladin Grovesnor is exhausted. It was enough to spend the entire previous day fighting her way through monster infested lands on her approach to the mountain. Now she has climbed the cliff of Mount Brimstone twice to retrieve her armor. She is propelled only by her faith and her sense of duty.
The completion of her quest is close at hand. She trudges across the smoldering summit of Mount Brimstone to the crater at its center and looks into the pit. There it is, the Chalice of Thezus! She can hardly believe the artifact of her search is so prominently displayed. A giant golden, ruby encrusted goblet sitting just at the top of a shining pile of untold riches. The glittering horde illuminates the entire crater in the late afternoon sunlight.
Amongst the pile of gold coins, gemstones, and Paladin Grovesnor’s precious chalice, lays its protector. A sleeping dragon. Its dark red scales interwoven with the pile of treasure it defends. A faint smell of sulfur burns the paladin’s nose as she watches thin tendrils of smoke swirl around the sleeping beast’s head with every breath.
This is it. The paladin lifts her shield with one powerful arm and her mace with the other. The mace’s runes glow with holy power as she charges toward the crater to face her foe.
And then she slips. Just at the edge of the crater the paladin’s foot misses a step. She tumbles down into the pit in a landslide of coins and jewelry. She lands in a noisy jumble of precious metal and quickly jumps to her feet, aware that she will have woken the red dragon.
She rights herself just in time to see the dragon’s eye open. It observes Paladin Grovesnor lazily without even raising its head. She stands gripping her mace, in dented, scratched armor, covered in sweat and dried blood, and fighting the weight of exhaustion. The dragon can vaguely make out the glowing outline of the paladin’s holy flame.
With a flick of his barbed tail, the dragon launches the paladin out of the crater and closes his eye to go back to sleep.
“What the hell? What was that?”
“You rolled a natural one, the dragon swatted you with its tail.”
“So is that it? Am I dead?”
“Don’t freak out. You can be revived by acolytes of your order or wake up imprisoned by bandits or something.”
“Do you know what the chances are of getting five rolls in descending order like that?”
“No. What are they, brainiac?
“Uh… Like, really low.”
“See, this is why I don’t like playing with kids in AP statistics. Face it, your luck ran out and Paladin Grovesnor got swatted by a red dragon. It would have been really hard for you to win that fight anyway.”
“Okay, fine. Can we play again tomorrow?”